Top Tips for promoting Cycling to School

07.6.12

The National Transport Authority fund the Green-Schools Travel Module of the national Green-Schools Flag program

As of September 2011, over 844 schools and 170,000 pupils are or  have been through the green-schoools programme, implementing initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Results from schools between 2009 and 2011 indicate an 18% reduction in private car use to more sustainable modes of travel to school. This represents over 9,000 people per day making the switch from the car to walking and cycling.

Green-Schools Travel Top tips to promote Cycling to School

A toolkit was developed by the National Transport Authority and Green Schools Travel to help your school promote walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable travel. The intended audience is teachers, parents and other responsible members of a school community, who can then share and discuss the ideas contained with both primary and secondary pupils.

Download the toolkit here

If you are outside of the Green-Schools Travel programme be optimistic but realistic about what you can achieve. Experience has shown you’ll need strong support from a champion within your school, parents, the Gardai and your Local Authority.   Being in the Green Schools travel programme will greatly assist in getting this support.  While every school is different, schools should probably start with easy to do initiatives, such as promoting a “one-day-a-week” initiative such as Walk or Cycle on Wednesday. Then as your school builds confidence and capacity you can take on more of the ideas listed

The Following Sections Include:

– Cycle Training

– Raising Awareness

– Cycle on Wednesdays

– Create an Incentive

– Revamp cycle parking

– Bike Doctor

Cycle Training

A good way to become experienced and confident as a cyclist is to undertake a cycle training course. A cycle training course will allow you to practice your cycling skills away from traffic, before venturing into quiet traffic situations. Contact your Local Authority or Road Safety Officer for further information and to find out if it is happening in your area. Cycle training can take place during or after class time depending on your school’s situation.

Cycle on Wednesdays

To get people to trial cycling or to feel more confident on a bike, you could encourage them to cycle one day a week. Green-Schools Travel has a Cycle on Wednesday (COW) initiative which encourages students, staff and parents to cycle to school on a Wednesday. This is a great way to instill a cycling culture as the more people cycle once a week the more likely they will cycle on other days of the week.

Did you know?

– More pupils would prefer to cycle to school than go by any other transport

– 85% of school pupils own a bike (Green School Annual report 2011 survey sample 9,641)

Cycle on Wednesday Roscommon Community College

Raise Awareness

You could have a poster competition in your school or community to promote cycling. You could also create a map of the area showing local cycling routes and cycle parking locations. Ask your local library or sports centre to display the winning entries.  National Bike Week takes place every June – Check out www.bikeweek.ie to register an event or to find events to take part in.  There are also lots of tips and advice on other events that will inspire ideas for your school.

Create an Incentive

Sometimes it is a good idea to offer an award as this will create an incentive.  Award a ‘Cyclist of the Month’ by giving them a prize for cycling the most often or the furthest. You could reward cyclists by offering them a healthy breakfast or a refreshing smoothie for each day they cycle during a dedicated week. This could be sponsored by a local business. The bicycle lottery could be another incentive by giving a raffle ticket to an individual every time they cycle. The more you cycle the more tickets you get, thus increasing your chances of winning.

Revamp Cycle Parking

If you are going to cycle you will need somewhere safe and secure to leave your bicycle. You will need to ensure your parking is suitable for the bicycles in question and that it is in a suitable place for cyclists to use, for example, parking where cyclists can lock their bike frames (not the wheels), near entrances, covered, well lit with people passing by.  Publicise your cycle parking. If people don’t know where it is, then it will not be used. Contact your local authority for possible funding sources for cycle parking.

Cycle Parking, Scoil Aodán Naofa, Carnew Wicklow

Bike Doctor

Lots of bicycles lie at the bottom of the garden rusting away or in the shed because they have a flat tyre. Why not organise a bike mechanic to deliver a workshop for your school to get those bikes back in shape? Contact a local cycling enthusiast or bike shop mechanic to deliver a workshop.

Children in St. Francis National School, Limerick, at their bike maintenance class

Cycle Champion

You will need to get someone to oversee all the organising and administering of any cycling event taking place. Therefore it would be a good idea to select a Cycle Champion to do this for you. This person should enjoy cycling, be friendly and well organised. Having a Cycle Champion will ensure that events run smoothly and it will also provide a contact if dealing with funding applications for cycle training or parking in your school.